The 8th Edition of the Webinar Series ‘Igniting Young Minds, Rejuvenating Rivers’ was organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga, today. The theme of the webinar was ‘Afforestation’. The Webinar series is organised with an aim to connect with the youth on the important issue of Ganga Rejuvenation.
The session was presided over by the Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Shri G. Asok Kumar. The panelists from leading educational institutions included Dr. Bhushan Dewan, Vice Chancellor, Sridhar University, Pilani, Professor Dharam Budhi, Vice Chancellor, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun, Dr. Sudesh Kumar Sohani, Vice Chancellor, IES University, Bhopal and Dr. Nand Kishore Sinha, Vice Chancellor, Maharaja Agrasen Himalayan Garhwal University.
Giving the keynote address, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Shri G. Asok Kumar gave an overview of the Namami Gange Programme and talked about the various steps being taken to achieve the targets of Nirmal (pollution abatement) Ganga and Aviral (maintaining e-flow in the river) Ganga by adopting a basin-level approach. For the Nirmal Dhara, to ensure that no untreated sewage flows into the river. 161 sewerage infrastructure projects are sanctioned, out of which work on 83 has been completed and rest of the projects are in various stages of completion. Shri Kumar said that biodiversity conservation and afforestation are also associated with this component of Namami Gange Programme and focused activities are being done on both these aspects.
He emphasized the importance of public participation for the success of Namami Gange Programme. “We want to transform Namami Gange into a mass movement so that it becomes sustainable. At the same time, through Arth Ganga, we are establishing river-people connect through the bridge of economics to ensure sustainability of projects. He said that to bring people together, programs like river rafting, Incredible Ganga Walk, Ganga Run and Ab Roz Hoga, Ghat Par Yoga, are being organized.
Terming afforestation as “very essential aspect of Clean Ganga Project”, Shri Kumar emphasized on the importance of plantation in preventing soil erosion, ensuring availability of water and fighting climate change. Under the Catch the Rain campaign, last year, more than 47 lakh rainwater harvesting structures were created and over 36 crore plantations were done. He said that under Namami Gange Programme, so far, plantation has been carried out spanning an area of about 33,000 hectares.
He laid emphasis on the appropriate plantation of native species for a particular ecosystem and suggested innovative ways like Adopt a Tree and Plantation on Birthdays to motivate youngsters in this direction. He said that we need to preserve these natural resources which are a heritage, given to us by our ancestors.
Dr. Bhushan Dewan talked about the need to include environmental science across curriculums. Giving the example of Ganga Praharis, he said that university students should be connected with the river rejuvenation projects like Namami Gange and expressed his commitment towards the cause.
Professor Dharam Buddhi appealed to take the afforestation program to as many people as possible to maintain the biodiversity. He said that coordination between academia and administration will bring benefits to the cause.
Dr. Sudesh Kumar Sohani said that today we are working towards reviving and conserving rivers but we have to explain the need of forests to people first. He shared his experiences of conservation and afforestation of rivers in different states.
Dr. Nand Kishore Sinha, said that children should be connected with environmental science under the new education policy, so that interest can be created among the young generation, about afforestation.